MLBPA says it has majority support for minor league league, seeks official recognition from MLB

In just a week and a half, more than 50 percent of junior players returned signed union credentials, Baseball Players Association officials said. the athlete. Now, with the support of that majority, the MLBPA has taken another important step: it has asked MLB and the 30 teams officially recognizing the MLBPA as the collective bargaining representatives of the junior leagues, players’ union officials said.

MLBPA Deputy Executive Director Bruce Meyer made this request to voluntary recognition In a letter sent to MLB Deputy Commissioner Dan Halim on Tuesday morning. The Players Association has sent out what is known as a Card Verification Agreement, in which the league agrees to voluntary recognition, subject to independent verification of cards. From here, the next step may be for Commissioner Rob Manfred and the owners, who have yet to comment publicly on the efforts of the fast-moving unions. MLB did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the athlete Tuesday.

The MLBPA has always represented the major league players. In the news that surprised many in the industry, the Players Association Send authorization cards To the Little League on August 28. The next day, the MLBPA announced it was adding employees from the nonprofit Advocates for Minor Leaguers, a group that spearheaded the regulation process.

Said Trevor Hildenburger, the 31-year-old who has made 134 appearances in the major leagues while in San Francisco GiantsThe system as a secondary factor. “Cheerful” is a good word. But I’m not surprised.

“I have complete confidence in the fact that this is an inescapable fact, that the small leagues will be in the league, and we will collectively negotiate with the MLB for better working conditions. I have no doubt that we will reach our goal.”

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The MLBPA wants a federation of small unions

If the minors form a union, the contract they negotiate with the MLB will be separate from the major contract the association has. Both groups of players will be united into guilds Under the umbrella of MLBPA.

“This is my eighth year,” said Andres Angulo, a 25-year-old fisherman in North America. Baltimore OriolesThe system that helped organize his club. “Last year, I came home with $500 in my pocket. And I don’t think that’s something I want in my life. But I’m still in baseball, just because I have a dream to get to the major leagues. But I don’t think that’s fair to us.”

Unions can be formed in different ways: the employer can voluntarily recognize the union, as the players’ association wants to do here; Or the National Labor Relations Board can hold elections. The MLBPA is expected to file for an election if the league does not grant voluntary recognition.

Before elections are held, more than 30 percent of employees are required to show support. The MLBPA distributed authorization cards in large part to demonstrate that small dropouts could clear this tape, and they are said to have done so with ease.

To eventually win the election, the support of 50% or more of the players will be required. Players’ opinions could theoretically change between now and the election, and there could be disagreement between the MLB and the MLBPA over who qualifies as a member of the minor league’s bargaining unit. But the player’s response to the authorization cards indicates that the end result of the election could be a guild.

An MLBPA official described the number of cards returned by a large majority, but did not specify the exact percentage. “The small traders have spoken and it is time to start the bargaining process,” said the official.

Some members of the Organizational Effort Leadership Group have spoken to more than a hundred players since the beginning of last year.

“I’m very happy,” said Joe Hudson, a 31-year-old hunter in North America. Tampa Bay RaysThe system, which, like Angulo and Hildenberger, is part of that group. “It looks really good. We’re so excited. This is something a lot of people have worked long hours for a long time – tirelessly and honestly. We’ve had multiple midnight zoom calls over the past month or so, just hooking up some loose ends and making sure that Everyone is on board.”

It was two months ago, Hudson said, that the process “really accelerated when the MLBPA got involved.”

“I sat on a couple of Zoom calls and saw Tony Clarke,” Hudson said. “It’s the ultimate motivator, it’s pretty scary. But you know, when he said, ‘Hey, this is what we do, this is how we’re going,’ it was incredibly motivating. … It was honestly kind of like a standard Zoom call very organized by (former Advocates CEO Harry Marino.) Suddenly Tony was there, it was like, ‘Oh, damn, that got real.’

More than 5,000 players will be part of the new bargaining unit. Since the Dominican Summer League is located outside the United States, players in that league are not automatically part of the unit, but the MLBPA has told players it intends to try to compromise their working conditions as well.

In a FAQ shared with players online, the MLBPA wrote that “all players at every level of the local mini-league,” from complex tournaments through Triple A, were required to sign authorization cards. “MLBPA… will also later seek to bargain on behalf of the DSL junior league players.”

Angolo, who is from Colombia, said organizing players from Latin America came with its own challenges compared to organizing players born in the United States.

“I think it’s a lot different,” Angulo said. “For us, being a junior player in the league is a big opportunity, you know? You know the situation in our country. … At first they (Latin American players) didn’t want to do anything because they were afraid of losing their jobs, or the team found out that they were They do something bad against the teams. Because the first part is that they don’t speak the language, so they don’t know – like, they have no idea what’s going on.”

Over time, Angulo said, many Latino players have come to see these efforts as positive.

It wasn’t immediately clear how long the Players Association might wait for a response from MLB before moving into the election. There is no requirement to wait for a certain period of time, and no requirement to go for voluntary recognition whatsoever before elections, although groups trying to join unions usually ask for recognition. Employers often prefer to impose elections, which are held by secret ballot.

MLB’s approach to minor leagues has already generated a lot of negative publicity for the major leagues and caught the attention of Members of the US Senate Judiciary Committee. The sport was also only removed for months from a different public labor dispute over the major league’s collective bargaining agreement. The owner’s shutdown that lasted from December to March nearly shortened the regular season of 2022, halting opening day.

Given this history, it is unclear whether Manfred and the owners are now interested in an anti-union campaign. Manfred has been widely criticized saying in july He rejected the premise that junior league players do not receive a living wage.

MLB has in recent years chosen to increase salaries for minor league players, but not for a group that most players and their supporters find satisfactory. Starting at $400 per week at the lowest level for the Palace, up to $700 per week in Triple A. Deciding on a minor league wage lawsuit for $185 million.

Like many who organize unions in different industries, small unionists “face up against a strong corporation or organization,” in the words of Hildenburger. It has long been believed that minor guilds would be a particularly unlikely group to join guilds because minors are meant to be a stepping stone. Therefore, it is often said that players have a reason to stay calm, rather than challenge the major league organizations.

“I would be a liar if I told you I wasn’t afraid,” Hudson said. “But at the end of the day, it was something my heart told me was the right thing to do. It would absorb any danger that came with it. Because I wanted to be one of the men who took on that leadership role. Because I went through it, I went through it all. I can’t tell you.” How many times I’ve seen my teammates who have had to sleep in their cars or clubs to save money.I know what it means to not be able to afford the rent, the next grocery bill or the gas tank.I’ve seen drastically inadequate food options for players before and after matches.

“It’s about respect, dignity and basic fairness.”

(Photo by Bruce Meyer and Tony Clark: Greg Lovett/USA Today)